Follow The Crowds to Kuang Si Waterfalls in Luang Prabang
Wow, Luang Prabang! From the moment our plane touched down we kind of expected to love this city. Nestled in between lush green mountain sides it's much like a picture perfect place. The city is nicely structured, clean, and the buildings retain the charm of the colonial times. It's maybe so charming that some people could say it's fake and that it focuses too much on being touristic. Nevertheless after exploring on the first day we were hooked!
Once the capital of a kingdom, Luang Prabang is a city with a long history and even though it was in decline for a short period of time after the French colonization came to an end it turned around and how? The restoration of traditional wooden Lao style houses mixed with colonial European style transformed the city in one of the most charming places in South East Asia. In 1995 the city was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Besides the city itself there's another highlight close to Luang Prabang: Kuang Si Waterfalls. The river comes down the mountain feeding several waterfalls and swimming holes and if you're lucky —as we were— the water has a beautiful turquoise color. Kuang Si is were everyone goes when visiting Luang Prabang so we were hesitant on how and when to go. We don't want to be squeezed in the pools like sardines.
The ride to Kuang Si Waterfalls
We didn't feel like renting a motorbike -what we normally do- so we did it the easy way and booked a tour with our guesthouse. The downside of doing that is that we didn't know how busy it would be at the waterfalls as the tour would leave at a fixed time... like all other tours to the waterfalls! We relied on the fact that it was a weekday and low season so it should be OK... fingers crossed.
A minivan picked us up at 9:00 am -so late!-, then drove around for almost an hour to pick up other people and we were seriously getting annoyed and worried by whether or not we would enjoy this trip. Another hour later, we finally arrived at our destination: Kuang Si Waterfalls.
The driver told us we had two and a half hours which was half an hour less than what they told us at the guesthouse. Anyway, we went in hoping we'd enjoy it and oh yes we did! We were lucky. The water was beautiful and there were far less people than expected. When we arrived at the main swimming pool, there were only a handful of people swimming and even though it got busier as the time passed by, it was still enjoyable.
Avoid the crowds when going to Kuang Si Waterfalls
We were definitely lucky this time but we sure don't recommend visiting Kuang Si Waterfalls with a booked tour in a weekend in the busy season. We do recommend hiring your own transport or going by motorbike as early as possible and you'll probably have the waterfalls all to yourself.
The road is a little steep and has plenty of curves but in general is fairly good road. Do watch out for the wooden bridges, especially if it's wet. The ride on a motorbike is not that difficult if you're careful and use some common sense.
Kuang Si Waterfalls is probably one of the most touristic places in Laos but it's definitely still a highlight for anybody. Ask around before you go about how the conditions are and even how the color of the water looks. It might save you a disappointment like we had when visiting Erawan Waterfalls in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.